Bill to set minimum marriage age to 18 stalls in Washington

Apr 18, 2023, 6:48 AM | Updated: 8:38 am

drug possession...

The Washington Capitol Building in Olympia (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

A bill in Washington state to establish a minimum marriage age of 18 has stalled again in the Legislature.

According to nonprofit organization Unchained At Last, between 2000 and 2018 nearly 300,000 children were married in the U.S., and most of the marriages were between girls and adult men.

In Washington state, 4,831 people younger than age 18 were married between 2000 and 2018, according to the organization. And Washington is one of just a handful of states that don’t specify a minimum age for marriage.

House Bill 1455 seemed to have momentum in early March, when it unanimously passed the Washington House. But it languished in the Senate, where it didn’t get voted out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee in time to meet a deadline, The Seattle Times reported.

This year, states including West Virginia and Wyoming raised their minimum marriage ages to 18, with some exceptions. In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon’s minimum marriage age is 17 while in Idaho the minimum age is 16, according to the organization.

Children of any age can still get married in Washington state. If they’re 17, they can do so with parental consent, and if they’re younger than that, they need approval from a judge.

“Almost always,” the people forcing children to marry are their own parents, according to Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained At Last.

Many Americans aren’t aware that child marriage is an issue here, Reiss said. She explained that there’s no organized opposition to ending child marriage, but state lawmakers haven’t prioritized changing the law.

“I think it’s still happening because it’s an issue that is primarily impacting girls,” Reiss said. “And legislators are not known for prioritizing girls’ issues … And because most Americans are unaware of this, they’re not hearing from their own constituents saying, ‘What the hell? You need to change this.’”

Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra of Redmond, who is chair of the Law and Justice Committee, told the newspaper she had to evaluate which of the 65 bills that were sent to her committee needed to pass this year.

“I look forward to giving it a hearing next session,” Dhingra said.

The legislative session ends Sunday and lawmakers will convene again in early 2024.



Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Missing Mount Rainier climber’s body found in crevasse; he was celebrating 80th birthday

Search crews on Mount Rainier have found the body of a man matching the description of an 80-year-old solo climber reported missing

16 hours ago

Washington gun restrictions...

Associated Press

Judge rejects attempt to block new Washington state gun restrictions

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request to block a new Washington state law banning the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles

2 days ago

FILE - A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference, April 28, 2015,...

Associated Press

Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children’s data

Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children

2 days ago

FILE - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman gestures while speaking at University College London as part of his ...

Associated Press

OpenAI boss ‘heartened’ by talks with world leaders over will to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

3 days ago

FILE - The draft of a bill that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., neg...

Associated Press

Debt deal imposes new work requirements for food aid and that frustrates many Democrats

Democrats are deeply conflicted about the debt ceiling deal, fearing damage has been done to safety net programs

4 days ago

Seattle lawyer...

Associated Press

Lawsuit alleging ex-deputy falsified arrest report settled for $250K

A lawsuit filed by a Washington oyster farmer accusing a former county deputy of falsifying an arrest report

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Bill to set minimum marriage age to 18 stalls in Washington